Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing another year of disappointment, a fifth straight season without a playoff win, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers are. Specifically, where the Steelers players stand individually based on what we’ve seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it unfolds. We will also rate players based on their previous season and future prospects. A stock valuation can take several different approaches and I will try to clarify my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on longer term trends. In other cases, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once during the season as we go along.

Player: DB Tre Norwood

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Reasoning: At least for now, as the Steelers continue to hunt for a strong starting safety, sophomore defensive back Tre Norwood is likely the “next man” — for all that’s worth in a storyline that’s bound to change.

Do I think Tre Norwood will start with strong security as the main option this year? Absolutely not. But if the team were to take the field for a game today, he would be in the starting lineup, as the Steelers continue to play with their options, such as Terrell Edmunds, Tyrann Mathieu and a number of potential picks at the repechage.

Let me say this very clearly for those who read beyond the title and perhaps the opening line beyond the stock: I am in no way suggesting that Norwood will be a starting safety this year, or that the delay in finding a starter makes the potential of its startup more than marginally closer to a reality.

But maybe it says at least a little about how the Steelers feel about him that they didn’t feel pressured to fill that all-important position sooner. A small vote of confidence. This is a team that likes to have every possible hole filled before the draft, so having a glaring one in the starting lineup is no small feat.

But maybe they have a certain level of “comfort”, not radically different from their “comfort” in Mason Rudolph as a starter, in the idea that Norwood is an emergency backup option even if they exhaust every reasonable opportunity to avoid this scenario.

Norwood started a game last season, in free safety, when Minkah Fitzpatrick had to sit out a game following a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. While he’s more ideally suited to play as a free safety, I imagine he’ll also be the best replacement hard safety at the start of the regular season – and at that point I’m guessing it will be behind Edmunds as a entrance.